F1 Cannabis Hybrids

F1 Cannabis Hybrids

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
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Known for its wide range of benefits, F1 hybrid technology was primarily reserved for agriculture, vegetation, and ornamental uses. But now, F1 hybrids are fast becoming commonplace in the world of cannabis. With the release of Zamnesia's own line of F1 hybrids primed for growers and consumers of all levels, it's high time (pun intended) that we give you a breakdown of everything you need to know. The difference is clear: the future of cannabis is here.

What are F1 cannabis hybrids?

What Are F1 Cannabis Hybrids?

First things first, what are F1 cannabis hybrids? Otherwise known as filial 1, hybrid cannabis seeds are created by crossing two different inbred parent lines resulting from generations of inbreeding. Now, this might sound a little dodgy, but it's cannabis genetics 101. Breeders utilise groundbreaking techniques to extract alleles and use processes such as homozygosity to bring out the best qualities and streamline them in F1 hybrids. This results in a variety that's more uniform, stable, and higher-yielding compared to traditional cannabis strains, which tend to produce multiple phenotypes. But don't worry, we'll get into all of the science behind F1 hybrids soon enough.

Advantages of F1 cannabis hybrids

Advantages Of F1 Cannabis Hybrids

While we've already alluded to some potential benefits of using F1 hybrids, the advantages can be summed up in three words: stability, uniformity, and productivity. One by one, we'll look at each benefit offered by F1 varieties, so you know exactly what you're in for once you bust out those seeds.

✅ Stable

As mentioned, the inbred nature of F1 hybrids allows any impurities to be weeded out, resulting in a stable, robust, and resilient variety. This means that regardless of your environment, all the seeds you sow will grow into strong, hardy plants. Of course, like with all cannabis plants, care and upkeep are required when growing F1s, but their vigour and stability are unmatched.

✅ Focused on specific traits

Not only do F1 hybrids offer stability, but each variety is primed to exhibit specific traits, such as exceptional terpene and cannabinoid concentrations. This means each plant develops high levels of THC (or CBD) and exhibits diverse, intense aromas and flavours.

✅ Higher yields

A stable and reliable plant undoubtedly comes with higher yields. F1 hybrids offer up a drastic increase in bud for growers. Not only are harvests sizeable, but each plant has the potential to showcase similar yields and final heights.

✅ Faster growth

Another advantage of a stable and reliable F1 hybrid is that it has the potential to grow much faster than traditional seeds. Some varieties will reach their harvest point in just 60 days from germination, meaning growers will get their hands on the good stuff much quicker.

✅ Better than clones

Clones offer a great way to replicate traits from a mother plant, but they come with a variety of potential downfalls, including failure to root. With F1 hybrids, you get all the benefits of uniform plants but don’t need to keep a mother plant around to maintain consistent genetics.

❌ Disadvantages of F1 cannabis hybrids

While there's plenty to love about F1 hybrids, they're not without their shortcomings.

F1 hybrids have an increased level of genetic instability, meaning they are more often unable to produce seeds. In the case that they do produce seeds, the offspring will not be of the highest quality. This offspring would exhibit a vast mixture of characteristics derived from the F1 hybrid's parents and may be far less reliable. However, this factor is primarily relevant to those looking to create new strains, and is unlikely to impact the casual home-growing enthusiast.

Another possible caveat of F1 hybrids is their cost. It's no secret that these seeds do hit the wallet a little harder compared to traditional strains. Still, many would argue that the price of admission is well worth it for plants that offer the certainty of producing high-quality results.

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Production process

Production Process

So, just how are F1 cannabis hybrids produced? We've already spoken a little about the inbred parent lines forged to create F1 hybrids. Is it just left to chance after that? Not exactly. Many aspects are involved in creating an F1 hybrid, and below we'll give you an overview of what goes on.

➡️ Alleles

Much like animals and humans, the chromosomes of cannabis plants contain alleles. These variations of genes are responsible for picking up traits to pass on. In humans, for example, this could be eye colour, but for cannabis plants, this could be attributes such as stature, yield, and appearance.

➡️ Zygosity, heterozygosity, and homozygosity

Zygosity, heterozygosity, and homozygosity are terms you’ll often see when reading about F1 cannabis seeds. These terms refer to several different processes of how alleles are separated and selected. For reference, zygosity essentially means the degree of similarity between alleles of a specific gene.

Heterozygosity refers to an organism that inherits two different alleles of a gene, taking one from each parent. In contrast, homozygosity means an organism inherits two identical alleles of a gene—one allele from each parent. Regarding F1 hybrids, both heterozygosity and homozygosity play a significant role in their formation, starting with creating an inbred line.

➡️ Creating an inbred line

Otherwise known as an IBL, an inbred line is the genetic building block of an F1 hybrid. To create an inbred line for F1 hybrid production, you start with a stable strain that has desirable traits you want to lock in. This strain is then self-pollinated over several generations to create an inbred line.

Each generation will make the line more homozygous as identical alleles are passed on. After 6–8 generations of inbreeding, the line will “breed true", meaning that the plants are homozygous for most genes, and the genetics are now stable enough to be used as a parent for making F1 hybrids.

➡️ Creating the F1 hybrid

Now that the inbred lines have been finely tuned over several generations, the work of creating an F1 hybrid can truly begin. The existing IBL is crossed with another stable inbred line with complementary traits. This cross between two homozygous parents produces F1 hybrids that are highly heterozygous and exhibit hybrid vigour—resulting in plants that exhibit exceptionally uniform growth and combine the beneficial traits of the two parent IBLs used in the original cross. In cannabis, hybrid vigour culminates in plants that often grow faster, yield higher, and have more resilience and overall vigour compared to the parent plants.

F1 hybrids vs traditional seeds

At this point, you might be wondering, exactly how do F1 hybrids differ from traditional strains? We've put together a handy table that gives you a direct comparison between the two. From phenotypes to hybrid vigour, here are some key differences and similarities between these two types of seeds.

  Traditional Cannabis Seeds F1 Hybrid Cannabis Seeds
Genetics Heterogeneous mix of genetics Hybrid cross of two homozygous inbred parent lines
Phenotypes Multiple phenotypes Very uniform phenotypes
Stability Can be unstable Very stable and resilient
Yields Variable yields Consistently high yields
Growth Rate Typical growth rate Faster growth rate
Seed Production Can produce viable seeds Seeds often nonviable or produce unstable offspring
Cost Typically inexpensive More expensive
Ideal for Cannabis Growers Biologists, geneticists, argronomists

How F1 hybrids differ from other hybrids

When it comes to cannabis, we're spoilt for choice regarding the selection of traditional and hybrid varieties on offer. Even today, new ways to safely manipulate the genetics of cannabis are still being explored, with some great results. But how do F1 hybrids stack up against other hybrid varieties? Let's take a look.

What's the difference between F2, F3, and F4 hybrids?

Essentially, the main differences between F2, F3, and F4 cannabis seeds relate to how many generations of crossbreeding the variety has gone through. F2 seeds, for example, are offspring resulting from crossing two stable F1 hybrid plants, and exhibit more genetic variation compared to F1s. F3 seeds are the next step, and result from crossbreeding F2 seeds. Lastly, F4 seeds, as you may have guessed by now, are the offspring of crossbreeding the F3 generation. In general, the higher the “F” number, the more stable the genetics are. But don't worry about getting too bogged down in the science behind it all; check out our handy table below for all you need to know.

F2 F3 F4
Selfing F1 hybrids 

Selfing F2 seeds

Selfing F3 seeds
Genetics More heterogeneous than F1 Increasingly homogeneous Most homogeneous and stable 
Phenotypes More variation than F1 Less variation than F2 Most uniform phenotypes
Yields Can be variable More consistent yields Very consistent yield 
Stability Less stable than F1 More stable than F2 Most stable genetics
Ideal for  Continuing a breeding project Stabilising strain genetics  Maximising uniformity

S1, S2, S3

The terms S1, S2, and S3 describe how many generations of self-pollination were carried out to create the seeds. Otherwise known as “selfing”, S1 seeds are created by self-pollinating stable hybrid cannabis plants. This results in seeds that have a mix of traits from both parents. Following this, S2 seeds come from self-pollinating the most desirable S1 plant. This fine-tunes the traits further, creating much more uniformity amongst the S2 generation. However, there is still some trait variation. S3 continues the trend by self-pollinating an S2 plant. It's thought that S3 has the most stable and uniform genetics out of the three mentioned here. However, F1 hybrids combine two unique genetic lines compared to S3's singular self-pollinating line, resulting in F1 hybrids being much more reliable overall.

S1 S2 S3
Selfing a hybrid

Selfing S1 seeds

Selfing F3 seeds
Genetics Mix of parent genetics More homogeneous Most homogeneous
Phenotypes More variation Less variation Most uniform
Yields Can be variable More consistent yields Very consistent yield 
Stability Less stable More stable Most stable
Ideal for  Beginning to stabilise a strain Continuing to stabilise Maximising uniformity



Cannabis poly-hybrids are strains that are derived from breeding two or more parent strains, combining a complex mix of genetics. The multifaceted genetic makeup of poly-hybrids allows breeders to create plants that exhibit unique cannabinoid and terpene profiles and morphological traits. However, unlike true F1 hybrids, poly-hybrids tend to showcase a high degree of variability among individual plants.

Backcrosses or BX hybrids

Backcrossing is typically utilised to correct or enhance a specific trait within a line of plants. This is achieved by crossing offspring plants with their original parents. For example, crossing a strain that's 50% Blueberry and 50% Haze back to the Blueberry parent allows the breeder to strengthen the Blueberry traits in the offspring. Backcrossing over multiple generations helps to make traits more homogenous and stabilises the strain. Breeders will often look to create multiple BX generations, like BX1, BX2, and BX3, to stabilise the genetics further. Typically, growers will look to use backcrossing techniques as a quicker means of enhancing traits compared to developing stable inbred lines, such as F1 hybrids.

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F1 terminology misused in the cannabis industry

When browsing other seed banks, dispensaries, and online stores, you may see the term “hybrid” or even “F1” often used. However, sometimes these words are used to push a product that isn't a true F1 hybrid, and most cannabis "hybrids" and strains labelled as F1 are not created from inbred parent lines. As discussed, true F1 hybrids are produced by crossing two homozygous inbred lines, resulting in a very uniform first filial generation.

However, most cannabis breeders will typically start with two existing heterogeneous strains that are genetically diverse. While they may call a first cross F1, this is not genetically the same as a true F1 hybrid. The terminology has become loosely applied in cannabis breeding and marketing. Without stabilised inbred parent lines, cannabis hybrids will not have the uniformity of traits seen in true F1 hybrids. As a result, the genetics remain heterogeneous across most “hybrid” cannabis strains.

Explore the world of F1 hybrids today

Explore The World Of F1 Hybrids Today

We've only begun to scratch the surface of what you can experience with F1 hybrids. These plants are primed to perform in various ways and are definitely worth exploring for yourself. So, if you're on the fence when it comes to F1 hybrids, there's simply no better time to pick some up. Take a look at Zamnesia's F1 collection—you won't be disappointed.

Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons
Professional cannabis journalist, copywriter, and author Adam Parsons is a long-time staff member of Zamnesia. Tasked with covering a wide range of topics from CBD to psychedelics and everything in between, Adam creates blog posts, guides, and explores an ever-growing range of products.
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